Life is often viewed as a series of wins and losses
It is said that “it is the little things in life that count” but is that really true? As you watched your children take their first step was that a wow moment? A win? Their first homerun, first touchdown, their first anything – was it a win? Conversely was their first fall a loss? Their first strikeout, break up, first anything painful – was it a loss?
Sometimes we make our own choices that create the wins and losses. But sometimes it is our parents’ choices that become our wins and, sadly, our losses.
I have trouble writing this because I personally don’t believe life is measured by wins and losses. I believe the first fall is a win. The first fall is a win because it gives us a reason to get back up and try again. I believe in wins, in personal growth, and in trial and error. Trial and error is learning and learning is winning. As a coach I would tell my players “you can do this.” I wasn’t lying to them or misleading them, even if I knew they would strike out (as they often do). Rather I hoped to give them the confidence to fail and the confidence to win.
Through the For Love of Kids Ministry, we deal with children who have been told “they can’t,” “they won’t.” They have heard all their lives that “they are losers,” that this is “who they are” and “this is where they are going.” They are told this so much that some stop trying. However, sometimes the kids are stronger than the situation. With a little love and understanding they start to truly believe in themselves and trust in the ones who reach out to help. Sometimes they believe the coach when they say ”you can do this.” When this happens, life is amazing! I love to see when that light turns on in their eyes and their smiles are as big as the full moon – all shiny and bright.
We had a win like that. Her name is Brittney. The odds are still stacked against her. But she is winning!
Just before Brittney’s 18th birthday we were sitting around talking about her future when we discovered that she was not enrolled in the state’s young adult support system. The state’s young adult support system allows children in the foster care system to continue receiving state assistance until they turn 21. I made a few calls and I was able to get her into the program – easy peasy for me, life changing for her. We showed her we were willing to help and with one simple act of kindness she knew we cared, and the walls she had built to protect herself started to crumble.
Brittany finished out her senior year of high school while living in the group home. Sadly, she didn’t have enough credits to graduate. This is a common problem with children in foster care as they usually bounce from school to school losing credits every time. After she finished high school, she still she wanted to get out on her own so she tried living with her sister to save up money to get her own apartment. This was not a good idea – going back into an unmanageable situation is never a good idea. Fortunately, she called and asked for help. She wanted a job that she would enjoy and her own place. Well her dream job, at the time, was she wanted to work at Victoria’s Secret! I just happened to know a regional manager of Victoria’s Secret! I set up the interview and she did the rest! They LOVED her and we were so proud of her! In order to get to the interview, she had to ride her bike and take four buses. (Now, keep in mind this was happening in August in the Arizona heat. I did meet her afterwards, once, to give her and her bike a ride back home.)
The next week we toured dozens of apartment complexes until we found one Brittany could comfortably afford: a nice studio apartment, which was empty! So we worked on filling it with donated furniture from Ann, one of our ministers, and $350 worth of supplies purchased with a grant from Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (http://www.affcf.org). They also provided a grant so she could attend a driving school!
Today, Brittany is still living in the apartment. She loves her job and has since been promoted. She has saved enough to buy her first car and is loving life.
We are still with Brittany, not so much in person, but always in our prayers. We text back and forth every once in a while. She is a very busy 20 year old WINNER! She knows we are and will always be here for her for whatever comes up.
We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.
That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about, helping with love in any way we can.